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November 16, 2018

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The Democrat running against Mia Love in Utah declared victory this morning. Up by 739 votes when they stopped counting yesterday, with reportedly fewer ballots than that remaining. Has to be just a hair closer before a recount can be requested.

Since joel hanes seconded GFTNC's spot on observations, among others' comments, regarding what are rightly termed my self-indulgent and boring outbursts, I would like to apologize for using the good offIces of Obsidian Wings to vent my anger, getting it all over you, and causing my friends here the discomfiting quandary of what to do about a guy abusing his legacy status here.

I'm especially aggrieved at the prospect of driving jrudkis and joel away, so I'm hoping they reconsider.

I'll do my part by becoming scarce.

For the time being, I'm going to take a break from these pages and if I do re-enter the fray I'll watch the ways in which I express my anger.

I'd like to thank lj, as everyone should, for being such an observant reader and tweezing out meaning, with forensic skill, that I deliberately inserted ("they long for") into the offending comment, but I'd also like to thank GFTNC for putting her finger on exactly how I felt as I hit the post button on that comment ...... God, this is self-indulgent of me and I expect extremely tiresome for everyone else that I'm once again writing these things.

Ouch .... twice, with the second ouch being the deserved, tough love therapeutic one.

That said, I own what I've written here and I'm not going to retract because I think we are up against something monstrous and viciously indomitable in this country.

But this is not the venue for the expression I've chosen, not that there is
one, short of donning a uniform.

hairshirthedonist's amusing musings that I'm not trying to recruit among the good, smart people here are not only correct, but a credit to all of you, because what would the kitty think if a plurality of you said "we await your orders, Count!"

One thing: I read just about every comment and the links therein on every thread, because I'm endlessly interested. For some reason, that sounds horrifyingly anal, but on the other hand I have plenty of other replacement reading to fill my free time going forward.

Finally, and wtf -ally, I'm sitting in the front room of my brother's house in Pittsburgh and as I finish up this comment, the UPS driver just left a box of toilet tissue and a box of bullets at the door, apparently for the incontinent hunters in the house.

I'm compelled to tell it as I see it. Happy Thanksgiving and the seed pods have indeed opened.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=x3cZJ3iURzk


Which, since it doesn't go anywhere near any of the major destinations here at the northern end (not sure how well it does near LA)

This is also confusing to me. San Francisco, e.g., isn't a major destination? It's been a few years since I've visited, and I've heard the electric scooter situation is pretty insufferable, but it hasn't gone down hill *that* much, has it?

Here's another fun item.
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/11/murphy-case-supreme-court-rules-muscogee-land/576238/

The mind boggles to consider what Our Leader will have to say if the Supreme Court (likely including his appointee Gorsuch) agrees. That is, the Eastern half of Oklahoma ends up being, in law, "indian country"**

** Which, apparently, is the technical legal term for not only Native American reservations, but also for a lot of other land in which they have various historical interest.

This is also confusing to me. San Francisco, e.g., isn't a major destination?

In a word, no. I believe the plan is to run trains on existing tracks from the end of the high speed rail in the Central Valley over the hills to, say, Oakland. From which, presumably, you could catch BART (light commuter rail, i.e. no space for luggage) across the bay to San Francisco. Yup, probably two changes of train involved. By that point, you've probably lost as much time as you would spend sitting in an airport (or standing in line for security) waiting to board your plane.

O singular count

I'm angry too, heartbroken and bitter about what has become of the world. I love your wit, but I see that in my own rage I have lost contact with the world of sky and living things, need more green shoots amidst the desolation, need more right mindfulness. Need less rage.

So "boring" was not the right word after all.

I rarely look in on Chris Floyd or driftglass any more, not because they're wrong, but because I'm having trouble handling the truth about this particular Code Red.

I think it's a hard time for all those with a heart.
Kaliyuga for real

Thanks for all the heart you've written from, for all these years, through all these seasons. All of it.

In a word, no. I believe the plan is to run trains on existing tracks from the end of the high speed rail in the Central Valley over the hills to, say, Oakland. From which, presumably, you could catch BART (light commuter rail, i.e. no space for luggage) across the bay to San Francisco.

I might be out of date, but that doesn't match any routing I've ever heard of. Nor does it jibe with, e.g., https://buildhsr.com/interactive_map/

Possibly what you're outlining there is some kind of interim plan for connections while construction is only partly complete.

I'm sure the San Jose/San Fran branch is going to be even harder and slower to build than the central valley stuff that's under construction already, but it's definitely a key part of the proposal. AFAICT, it's even still planned for "Phase 1", for whatever that's worth.

In a few decades, the California High-Speed Rail infrastructure will make nice bike trails.

In a few decades, the California High-Speed Rail infrastructure will make nice bike trails.

Or repurposed for the new magic highways that will let self-driving cars safely go 200 mph...

In any case, in its current form, it's a boondoggle of the highest order.

Boondoggle being a highly technical term for "megaproject I don't like".

That's just, like, your opinion man.

I'm sure the San Jose/San Fran branch is going to be even harder and slower to build than the central valley stuff that's under construction already, but it's definitely a key part of the proposal. AFAICT, it's even still planned for "Phase 1", for whatever that's worth.

The formal plan may say "Phase 1" for the San Jose - Merced line. But if you look at what is actually being done initially it's pretty clear that that branch is notional at best. Maybe, a few decades after (if) the line from LA to Sacramento is finished and in operation, something concrete (pun intended) will get done on the line over to the coast. But the smart bet would be that your grandchildren will be in retirement before it happens.

Thanks for all the heart you've written from, for all these years, through all these seasons. All of it.

O so say all of us, I bet, and particularly me, (retrospectively aghast at my presumption in judging you, you who in many ways are the brightest and best). Don't stay away, Count, if my theory that Marty is part of the soul of this place holds true, how much more the case is that with you? Surely, to quote your idols, we can work it out....

An opinion that I'm far from alone in. And not just from the usual suspects either.

The formal plan may say "Phase 1" for the San Jose - Merced line. But if you look at what is actually being done initially it's pretty clear that that branch is notional at best.

IIRC, the big problem is Phase 1 calls for a currently unfunded 13 mile long tunnel under the Pacheco Pass. Tunnel fairies, perhaps?

An opinion that I'm far from alone in. And not just from the usual suspects either.

Looks like pretty much the usual suspects to me.

And in case the teasing about the word 'boondoggle' wasn't clear, I'm not counting whining about cost overruns, or complaining that it's not ready already yet* as cogent objections to the thing.

If there's a comprehensive analysis out there contradicting the ones that show HSR not only makes sense, but will be absolutely necessary as CA grows, I've yet to see it.

Keep in mind there's going to be another 10 or 15 million people by the time HSR is a going concern. This in a state that is already on the verge of literally running out of 3 dimensional space to safely route planes through the air. I guess they could build more freeways instead, but it's not like those are going to be free or built overnight either.

Praying for the tech pixies to bring us self-driving ultracars, or electric passenger drones with intercity ranges or whatever** is not an actual plan.

So what's the alternative?

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* Because if you don't start building a big project two decades prior to starting to build it, I guess it's too late now or something? As they say in Catch 22, that's a hell of a catch.

** Both of which will presumably somehow magically have a per-passenger cost and energy efficient as good or better than trains, and won't need any new multibillion dollar, multidecadal physical infrastructure buildout of their own.

Keep in mind there's going to be another 10 or 15 million people by the time HSR is a going concern. This in a state that is already on the verge of literally running out of 3 dimensional space to safely route planes through the air.

Of course that population projection assumes that we will magically manage to do something about what is (and has been for decades) California's Number 1 growth constraint: water. We already fight over it constantly. And, unless someone gets serious about an economic way to distill sea water into something drinkable, it's only going to keep getting worse.

For those who aren't aware, we actually are living in a desert here. One with green lawns insisted upon by people who move here from the East, and don't realize that it isn't going to rain at all from April to October -- so they are going to have to water that lawn themselves. With water which will then NOT be available for minor things like drinking or growing stuff to eat. (Never mind the ecological damage which results when runoff drops towards zero in the rivers.)

Maybe it’s because I spent part of my life in Phoenix, but I don’t understand why people wouldn’t be more eager to free themselves of lawncare. Desert landscaping is so low maintenance. Or put down some high-end astroturf.

Joel and gftnc speak for me as well.

I guess I'm in the minority but I appreciate the Count expressing a rage I often share, sparing everyone my clumsier mangling of the topics. I get that rules are there for a reason and that they need to be applied uniformly, but I'm okay with a grandfathered carve out in his case.

That would evaporate instantly if I had any inkling that savage words might turn into savage deeds (or even inspire them). Or if such savagery was the only thing brought to the table. But I ain't, and I'd rather not cage that canary.

*it ain't

Thanks John

The view from Northern California on the high speed rail project:
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/11/21/editorial-stop-wasting-money-on-california-bullet-train/
The headline, "California bullet train built on foundation of deceit", says it all. But I loved this, too.

Dan Richard, the chairman of the high-speed rail board since 2012 ... perpetuates the notion that private investors are just around the next bend.

Yeah, right … and Mexico is going to pay for a border wall.

In California, around the next bend is usually a rock fall or mud slide. :)

Or a wild fire.

The view from Northern California on the high speed rail project:

I'm not impressed with the reasoning on display there.

I mean, on the surface, the basic complaint seems to be that the project is mismanaged (perhaps corrupt), and doesn't have sufficient funding.

Therefore we should give up.

I think maybe that's glossing over an important question. I mean, how would that "logic" work if we applied it to other essential activity?

"Wildfire fighting is expensive and some of the firefighters are corrupt. We should just send them home and let the fires burn."
"High speed internet providers are almost all greedy, inefficient, and overprice their services. We should just go back to dial-up."
"Healthcare is expensive and the industry is inefficient and totally corrupt. We should just call the whole thing off and go back to how we did it in 1846."
"Solar power plant construction is being mismanaged and underfunded. We should just cancel it and build coal plants instead."
"Highway construction is expensive and corrupt. We should never build any more lane miles."

Hopefully you get where I'm going with this.

Those statements are silly, because the questions hinge first and foremost on how necessary the activity is. Whether it is mismanaged or not is secondary.

If you assume the whole HSR thing is just a pointless vanity project, then yes, it should be canceled. But 1) that assumption needs to be justified, not hidden, because it flies in the face of the evidence, and 2) in that case, it should probably be canceled regardless of the degree of mismanagement.

On the other hand, if it is a necessary project, then the proper response to any mismanagement* or underfunding would be to fight like hell to fix those problems, not call the whole thing off and go home.

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* I'm not at all convinced this is in evidence with CHSR, at least not above the levels of minor fumbling one would expect from any big, somewhat novel, infrastructure project. Consider also that highway procurement, e.g., is at least as incompetent and corrupt if you care to look, yet somehow it doesn't elicit the same level of op-ed activity. Status quo bias is doing a lot of work there.

I mean, on the surface, the basic complaint seems to be that the project is mismanaged (perhaps corrupt), and doesn't have sufficient funding.

I haven't heard allegations of corruption. (Not to say there aren't any. Just that they aren't prominent enough for me to have registered them.) And overall management doesn't seem to be that a big issue either. It could doubtless be improved, but that's not what's driving complaints.

Rather, the problem seems to be bad planning. Or, if you prefer, that the project is ill-conceived. High speed rail that hit San Diego, maybe Long Beach, Los Angeles, perhaps Burbank, San Jose/Silicon Valley, and San Francisco? That would make some sense. But the way it's actually being done? Not really.

Plus the financial details -- not so much underfunding as badly underestimated funding requirements. Hard to get sufficient funding if you keep claiming it will cost far less than it really will. However critical that underestimating is to selling the project at all.

High speed rail that hit San Diego, maybe Long Beach, Los Angeles, perhaps Burbank, San Jose/Silicon Valley, and San Francisco? That would make some sense. But the way it's actually being done? Not really.

Ok, but that's kind of exactly the plan, no? I guess it hits Anaheim rather than Long Beach, but every other city you list is on the line. *Plus* Sacramento, and some bonus population centers in the Central Valley -- since you can't get from LA to SF without going north somehow (and the coast is arguably harder to build on).

Which means it seems like what you're really voicing is a complaint about what's getting built first.

And, ok, ,maybe that's fair. I don't have any strong opinion about the build order. I'd note that there were and are reasons for the staging plan that exists. Possibly those decisions haven't held up -- to the extent that the right of way acquisition has proved unanticipatedly difficult for example* -- but hindsight is 20/20, etc.

It seems like a very thin reason indeed to oppose the project overall, though.

And I'm still not crediting the "all the segments I care about won't be built for another 10 years, if it doesn't all get canceled first" pessimism as an argument for *preemptively* canceling it. We could all wish we'd started more construction projects like this 15 or 30 years ago so we could be using them already, but not being done as soon as you start is not much of an argument for giving up now.

----
* We don't (yet) know about the unanticipated difficulties that might have manifested on other alignments, of course.

Ok, but that's kind of exactly the plan, no? I guess it hits Anaheim rather than Long Beach, but every other city you list is on the line. *Plus* Sacramento, and some bonus population centers in the Central Valley -- since you can't get from LA to SF without going north somehow (and the coast is arguably harder to build on).

Which means it seems like what you're really voicing is a complaint about what's getting built first.

Close, perhaps, but not quite.

The cost is substantially more, and growing faster, precisely because it is being routed thru those "population centers" in the central valley. And the very expensive agricultural land around them. That's also, as indicated in the article back upthread, why things are taking so long: working out just what constitutes "fair compensation" is harder there than if we were just dealing with range land on the west side of the Valley. (Nobody thinks they should come up El Camino Real, aka US 101. As you say, far harder to build on.)

Also, that mess thru the Central Valley is being done first. If they had, for example, started with San Diego-LA, they would at least have something which would generate revenue while working north. But no. It's not so much a complaint about what is being done first as about why it is being done first. To my mind, the plan is to build up a substantial sunk cost in the Central Valley first. And then use that to leverage additional funding, lots of additional funding, to get the necessary land in Southern California.

wj, other folks in the know. Is the value of the agricultural land going to drop with climate changes and drought like conditions?

Changes in temperature, per se, aren't likely to make a big difference. Reduced rainfall will have a negative impact on the water table. But that is already dropping due to excessive pumping for irrigation, so at most it will force complete dependence for irrigation on water from snow in the mountains a bit sooner. (The Central Valley receives nowhere near enough rainfall for agriculture without irrigation.)

Fights over water are a longstanding feature of California politics. Agriculture has enough to support current operations pretty well locked in. These days most of the fights are between those concerned with the ecology on one side and those who want lush greenery suitable for the East Coast in the desert that is Southern California -- for an ever increasing number of people. Classic inadequate resource fight.

But agriculture, while it would like more (especially with increased focus on high water demand crops; the damn fools!), will be OK for the foreseeable future as is.

Fights over water are a longstanding feature of California politics.

All over the American West, and interstate as well as intrastate. Colorado (sometimes called "Mother of Rivers") is part of nine interstate river compacts. It is a rare time when we are not involved in a lawsuit over one of them.

We are currently in a lawsuit with Texas and New Mexico over the Rio Grande that could drastically change western water law. Texas has asked the Supreme Court to rule that withdrawals from underground aquifers that are hydrologically linked to surface rivers count as withdrawals from the river. While the engineering answer is obviously yes (with a complicated multiplier), the historical legal answer has been no.

The cost is substantially more, and growing faster, precisely because it is being routed thru those "population centers" in the central valley.

I mean, it's sort of a question of building it where the people are, or building it where it's easy.

Cheap(er) and easy is often picked for transit projects (e.g., elevated alignments along freeways instead of tunneled to where people actually live and work), but AFAICT it's invariably a mistake. It's never actually *that* much cheaper, and you lose out on substantial ridership, synergistic connections to other transit, land development patterns, etc.

I suspect having the big central valley towns directly on the tracks is a big win in the long run, cost overruns notwithstanding.

At the very least, you have to admit there are trade offs to be weighed, and valid arguments for going the other way.

To my mind, the plan is to build up a substantial sunk cost in the Central Valley first. And then use that to leverage additional funding, lots of additional funding, to get the necessary land in Southern California.

That hardly seems charitable.

I'm not sure makes any sense either. Surely if one expects funding to run out partway through, the best bet would be to build the shortest, busiest link you possibly could, then point to the success there to lobby for more.

But it would be a little insane to start a project like this expecting to fail halfway.

On the other hand, if you are expecting to finish, then there's a lot of logic to starting where they have - like building institutional experience.

I doubt this is a serialized process, either. The visible work might be where they're actually breaking ground, but there are presumably other teams using the time to get a head start on more difficult aspects, e.g., planning that mountain tunneling, or mapping out detailed proposals for alignments in LA and San Jose (now armed with extra knowledge of potential real-world pitfalls in the eminent domain process).

TLDR: I get that you'd *rather* they had started with LA to SD or something, but as with the Central Valley routing, there are, at minimum, perfectly valid looking arguments for making decisions in the other direction too. I'll admit I'm no expert, but I'm not convinced yet that not going with your preferences portends disaster.

As an example, the TGV trains in France go to major city stations, but some TGV stations are located outside of cities (historic concerns?) and a spur line from city center that has runs that are timed to match the TGV schedule.

If you *really* want your HSR to be *F*A*S*T*, I think you have to go with elevated track, and only connect to major cities so that you don't have to slow down very often. So farmers in the Central Valley would only have to put up with the occasional footprint from a pylon, not a grade-level track.

Shinkansen are awesome too.

If you *really* want your HSR to be *F*A*S*T*...

The Colorado Dept of Transportation has actually allocated a half-million dollars to do basic nuts-and-bolts route planning for a hyperloop with one of those companies. The tube would run on existing right of way, or land that can be acquired cheaply. Existing ROW is particularly important if they run a link up through the mountains. I've got no idea if they can make it work or not.

I suspect having the big central valley towns directly on the tracks is a big win in the long run, cost overruns notwithstanding.

A simple rule of thumb for whether it's worthwhile to run a high speed rail line to a city: how many flights a day currently connect it to other cities on the line? If the total is less than six or eight, the demand just isn't there.

Mass transit is a totally different animal. For that, you can put the lines in first and the housing for commuters will follow. But for HSR, if the demand isn't already in evidence you are just looking at a white elephant. And that's what stations in Fresno and Bakersfield, let alone the smaller towns, are going to be.

This is a quite remarkable story of ‘fake news’ -
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/the_godfather_of_fake_news

Also reported, with slightly different framing, in the WP:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/nothing-on-this-page-is-real-how-lies-become-truth-in-online-america/2018/11/17/edd44cc8-e85a-11e8-bbdb-72fdbf9d4fed_story.html

Mueller files status report indicating Manafort has been lying since his plea deal:
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5280689-Status-Report.html

Brown stuff about to meet fan.

Since this is an open thread:

I've just been reading in the NYT about a Japanese craftsman who specialises in indigo dying, and that reminded me of a documentary I saw years ago about Oliver Sacks, who talked about his ecstatic experience of having seen a true indigo while tripping, and his subsequent lifelong (unsuccessful) search to see it again. I was enchanted by this story (it was easy to be enchanted by Oliver Sacks), and started a poem called The Lost Indigo of Oliver Sacks, which never got finished (it barely got started, to be honest, I just loved the title), but after seeing today's NYT piece I was inspired to search for a reference to this story online, and I found this for anyone else who might be interested:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2015/09/03/the-first-time-oliver-sacks-saw-heaven-1964/

A simple rule of thumb for whether it's worthwhile to run a high speed rail line to a city: how many flights a day currently connect it to other cities on the line? If the total is less than six or eight, the demand just isn't there.

1. Fresno has 6 arrivals and 5 departures today to LA alone, plus a few more to SF, and a couple to San Diego. Dunno how big or full they are, but that ain't nothing. Other cities like Bakersfield have fewer, but they're on the way anyway. (Several would have been easily connected even with an I5 alignment.)

2. I have no idea where you're getting this "rule of thumb" from. Citations?

Certainly building a purpose built line out to tiny cities -- like the TGV to Le Mans and Tours -- seems a little questionable, but the Central Valley is hardly in the same basket. Bakersfield alone has more people than Le Mans and Tours combined.

There's surely also an important difference between the threshold one might use for justifying a terminal destination, and for simply building a station at a city that happens to be more or less along the way you were going anyway.

3. The contention that HSR isn't mass transit, and doesn't affect development seems questionable. Rail service in general it certainly capable of rather strong effects on development. Japan being a particularly powerful example of that (thanks partly to some idiosyncratic circumstances, but still).

I suppose it's true that the evidence for dramatic economic changes from the addition of HSR service is rather weak, but a lot of that evidence comes from places like Japan or Europe, where previously existing "normal" rail service was already well developed. HSR there is just a thin layer on top.

Considering the neglected state of US rail, however, CHSR might be more akin to getting proper *rail* service for the first time, rail that just happens to be high speed. It's hard to say how that will go, but I'm not sure there are any good contemporary parallels with which to form case studies.

Shouldnt we differentiate between rail service and hsr though?

It seems to me that her is designed for a different purpose, ie replacing airplane travel, than multistop rail service.

At least I would be curious if we were or weren't mixing goals.

Shouldnt we differentiate between rail service and hsr though?

Sure. And I'm not saying that CA couldn't use good non-high-speed regional commuter-y train service alternatives too, or couldn't have used them all along.

But the fact is they don't really have those. Nor to my knowledge will any arrive before HSR does. So my point is that the impact of HSR has to be evaluated in light of it being effectively the first decent rail service -- of any kind -- to many areas.

It seems to me that her is designed for a different purpose, ie replacing airplane travel, than multistop rail service.

I don't know that HSR is necessarily "designed" to replace air travel. It obviously *can* and should, for trips where the ticket prices and travel times are in the right range.

But by the same token, it can and should compete with other stuff -- like medium to long dist. auto trips.

And there's nothing wrong with serving in a commuting role, if and where the economics happen to allow.

I'm pretty sure that I've seen indigo multiple times. It's in a fairly narrow band around 400nm. Get to 380nm and you've got invisible UV, 390nm is kinda borderline visible, 420nm and you're in blue.

No tripping required.

The BBC link Posted by: Nigel | November 26, 2018 at 11:57 PM produces a mixed bag of reactions, all of which could be described collectively as a form of confusion. The more I learn about our modern world, the less I feel I understand it.

I have this temptation to post the link on facebook for all my conspiracy-theorizing, Trump-supporting friends to read. But they probably wouldn't read it. Or, if they did, they would deem it - with no sense of irony - fake news.

I don't know what sort of evidence you can produce to convince someone that they've been duped that won't simply convince them that you're trying to dupe them.

they believe what they wanna believe. and they don't want to live with no refugees. [don't want to live with no refugees]

One interesting feature of that Mueller filing is that it promises a Sentencing Submission. And a possibly key feature of a sentencing submission is that, unlike either a new indictment or the final report, it doesn't go thru the Attorney General. That is, Mueller can, if so inclined, make a whole lot of information public. And Whittaker (even if he has taken over oversight) can't preemptively shut it up.

I have no idea where you're getting this "rule of thumb"[on the number of flights to warrant hsr] from. Citations?

Actually, I came up with it myself (should have been clearer on that). Looking at it as an estimate for how many potential passengers there would be for hsr from a particular location.

So my point is that the impact of HSR has to be evaluated in light of it being effectively the first decent rail service -- of any kind -- to many areas.

Yes and no. Granted, there hasn't been passenger rail in a lot of places for decades. But in many of those, there was once. It ended due to lack of use/demand. Sometimes the tracks are still there, and used for freight. Other places, even that demand wasn't enough to maintain the right-of-way.**

** Growing up, there was a rail line -- a leftover from when this area was all orchards rather than subdivisions. We saw one train per year thru town. That being the minimum required to keep the right-of-way. When that stopped, the railroad lost it. It's a hiking trail these days.

Granted, there hasn't been passenger rail in a lot of places for decades. But in many of those, there was once. It ended due to lack of use/demand.

The same situation exists where I live. They are now planning on putting a line back in place mostly along the same right-of-way where there was once was a passenger line 50 or so years ago. But there has been some amount of growth since passenger rail went away. I'd guess, being on the East Coast and running through mostly very old towns, the growth has been a fraction of what it's been in California. I could be wrong about that, of course.

produces a mixed bag of reactions, all of which could be described collectively as a form of confusion..

Mine was along the lines of WTAF....

Needs to be read along with the WaPo article.

Needs to be read along with the WaPo article.

Just finished that one. It definitely gives a different impression of Christopher Blair from the outset. I guess from my standpoint a more sympathetic impression, or at least a more understandable one.

But the woman in Nevada. The mind boggles. I wonder what she would think after reading about herself in that article. Would it even register?

But have you considered that those article might really be fakes for the sake of duping us liberals? Maybe I'm just like the phony depiction of that lady in Nevada!

Yes and no. Granted, there hasn't been passenger rail in a lot of places for decades. But in many of those, there was once. It ended due to lack of use/demand.

Well, sure. But to extent that's true, note that most of those defunct earlier railroads shut down (or stopped offering passenger service) in the middle third of the last century or so. That's sixty to ninety years ago at this point.

Whatever the cause *then* -- demand or otherwise -- circumstances have changed a great deal since. Instead of mid-century automobile utopia dreams, we've got congestion, smog, and global warming. The policy picture has certainly changed. It's more than possible the demand picture has as well.

It wasn't necessarily just demand back then, either, or not exogenously so. Decline of demand might be caused in turn by policy decisions, or a lack of investment and service upgrades -- I did say "decent" service, and a line built in 1892 with once a day service doesn't quite fit the bill. There were also exogenous shocks from regulatory side effects, financial misadventures of various sorts*, and, occasionally, outright crookery.

Suffice to say, the decline of rail and public transportation in the US, and the decision to go all in on automobiles, is a much more complicated story than just "lack of use".

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* There was an awful lot of that with railroads over the years. Including with private streetcar and subway systems in the early part of the last century.

And while the proximate cause might have been insufficient receipts to cover outlays, it often wasn't a demand problem exactly, not any more than, say, the present-day Toys R Us bankruptcy is a demand problem. In the latter case, it's not that people stopped buying toys, it's that the company couldn't possibly sell enough of them cheaply enough to both compete with Amazon AND keep up with the private equity debt they'd been saddled with.

There was an awful lot of that with railroads over the years. Including with private streetcar and subway systems in the early part of the last century.

Not to mention cases, as in the cities around here, where the private street car company got bought out by GM. And then closed down, the better to sell more cars. Ah, private enterprise in action.

Not to mention cases, as in the cities around here, where the private street car company got bought out by GM. And then closed down, the better to sell more cars.

Or, many cases, replaced by GM buses which were cheaper and more flexible.

Or, many cases, replaced by GM buses which were cheaper and more flexible.

"Cheaper and more flexible" being code words for "we're cheap bastards and we're not actually committing to any infrastructure", therefore "don't bother to invest in any property development along a route because it could change or disappear at any time."

Permanency has its benefits.

"A new state audit raises questions about flaws in California's $77 billion high-speed rail project, adding pressure on Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to consider cutting back the construction of the train or make other major changes."
California Gov-elect Gavin Newsom faces pressure to cut $77 billion high-speed rail project after audit

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